What Is Fatigue Risk Management
Fatigue is one of the most important factors in overall operational safety. It’s so important that most aviation safety management systems adopt additional and specific measures to combat fatigue. Fatigue risk management includes:
- Fatigue monitoring;
- Fatigue controls;
- Fatigue data gathering; and
- Fatigue policies and procedures.
In short, fatigue risk management plans span nearly every area of your SMS.
Why is fatigue highlighted? When employees are tired, they tend to be:
- More complacent;
- Less aware of their environment;
- More stressed out;
- More easily distracted; and
- Respond slower to safety problems.
In high-risk industries like aviation, employees need to be in optimal mental shape to be prepared to respond to danger. Here are ways to incorporate fatigue risk management into your SMS.
Related Articles on Fatigue Risk Management in Aviation SMS
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- Winter Fatigue Hazard Register Review - Aviation SMS SRM & SA Example
- How to Best Monitor Fatigue in Your Aviation SMS
How to Use Fatigue Risk Management in Hazard Reporting System
Your hazard reporting system is the cornerstone of the continuous improvement of your SMS. Likewise, gathering data about fatigue issues is one of your best weapons to assess how well your organization is mitigating fatigue-related issues.
Perhaps the best way to use fatigue risk management in your hazard reporting system is to develop a custom Fatigue Reporting Form to use as a part of your hazard reporting process. This form can be electronic or physical, depending on your resources.
Your Fatigue Reporting form should include all relevant details of fatigue problems, such as:
- Duty periods;
- Contributory factors;
- Physical symptoms;
- Cognitive symptoms;
- Level of alertness; and
- Other basic details (flight number, actions taken, etc.).
Gathering all of this data in a reporting form allows for significant and accurate data mining in the future.
How to Use Fatigue Risk Management in Safety Policy
Because fatigue risk management is an integral part of any aviation service provider’s risk management strategy, you should incorporate your fatigue management strategy into your Safety Policy.
Due to pressure, norms, or other cultural issues, employees may be reluctant to report fatigue issues. To address this, you should ensure that you have:
- A mandatory reporting policy for fatigue (either seen in others or experienced in oneself); and
- A non-punitive reporting policy that reinforces the fact that reporting oneself for fatigue reports is encouraged.
You might also include other helpful training materials in your Safety Policy regarding what fatigue is and what it looks like.
How to Use Fatigue Risk Management in Safety Assurance Process
Your Safety Assurance process involves many activities that help you ensure that your SMS is functioning as designed. Many of these activities mean ongoing monitoring.
You should have various classifications when that you can assign to safety issues, and in your classification tree you should have several types of classifications for fatigue. For example, you might have the following fatigue classifications:
- Personally, reported fatigue;
- Fatigue reported before hazard occurrence;
- Fatigue reported after hazard occurrence;
- Moderate to severe fatigue symptoms; and
- Mild to moderate fatigue symptoms.
This will allow you to flag issues as being related to fatigue for later data mining and generating safety charts for fatigue. Viewing fatigue charts over periods of time allows you to:
- See trends in the number of fatigue reports over time; and
- Compare the current time to the previous one.
Ideally, you will see:
- Decreasing medium or high-risk fatigue issues as you implement your fatigue controls (means workers are more aware of fatigue);
- Increasing low-risk fatigue issues as you implement your fatigue controls (means people are reporting fatigue); and
- Steady reporting numbers for fatigue after your fatigue controls are implemented.
How to Use Fatigue Risk Management in Safety Risk Management Process
To practice fatigue risk management in your Safety Risk Management process, you need to implement fatigue risk control measures. Some examples of fatigue controls are:
- Mandatory fatigue reporting policy;
- Fatigue test before flights;
- Mandatory reporting of pilot duty time; or
- Policy regarding duty times of flight crew.
As you monitor your fatigue performance, you will probably need to update controls or add new controls. You know controls are working when you have a consistent number of fatigue reports that are reported proactively.
Last updated January 2024.